DREAMS CAN be hard things to follow. As you chase them, having a friend alongside you strengthens you for the journey. A group of like-minded friends becomes a brotherhood of believers, and the sky’s the limit. Andrew (Redd) Howell and Jordan (J) Whorley were elementary school friends before discovering music. With Howell first learning banjo and Whorley the guitar, the two spent their spare time as 12-year-olds passing on what each was learning to the other. Howell soon switched to guitar, and a yard sale CD of Credence Clearwater Revival’s greatest hits set them on a course that would change their lives.
“The only way I could play that CD was through a DVD player on a little TV I had. Neither of us knew how to read music at the time. Once I figured out how to tune a guitar, it stuck in my memory, and we figured the songs out from the CD. That’s pretty much how it started,” said Whorley. “We didn’t have much else to do at the time. We just kind of bounced off each other and progressed really fast.”
High school graduation came, and Howell went to Middle Tennessee State University. Whorley stayed in Lincoln County but was restless and made many trips to Murfreesboro to hang out with Howell as much as possible.
“One day, when I was going through a rough time, Red said, ‘Man, just move up here.’ So I moved up here, and we worked on different projects, and here we are,” Whorley said.
Here is with the Murf reesboro-based, hard-hitting rock band, Revelry, with bandmates Zack Montgomery, Dane Lovvorn, and Cruze Blanke, where on November 17, they opened for Yelawolf and Shooter Jennings at the Ryman Auditorium. Here is playing from Detroit to South Georgia, Kansas City to Myrtle Beach, and places in between. Here is in the recording studio three and four nights a week after playing on the road another three nights. Here is right smack down in the middle of their dream.
Dreams often take a back seat, especially when life presses in. And pursuing your dream isn’t always comfortable; things sometimes get tight.
“There’s been lots of ups and downs, and there continues to be; I reckon there always will be. I’ve had times where I sort of lost direction, personally, but I’ll stay the course because what gets you through, always, is the music. It’s the greatest therapy there ever was,” said Howell.
From the outside, things look much easier than they really are.
Howell said, “People see the highlights of a lifestyle like this. There’s a lot of in-between and hardship in this kind of thing. There’s a lot of missed meals, late rents, and personal things you miss because you’re so busy all the time. But when you get a phone call from one of your idols asking you to play with him at the Ryman, or when you’re standing in one of the nicest studios in Nashville working on your music with your band, it makes all that worth it. We have a lot of good things going on now and coming up. We could have easily given up thousands of times, but I’m glad we didn’t.“
Howell can appreciate the practical side of life, but he encourages dreamers.
“If anyone living in a small town feels they have half a chance to follow their dreams, please do yourself a favor and see it through to the best of your ability. You can go get that shift job and make a lot of money; there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of the best people I know spent their whole life working in a factory. But the world needs you to follow your dream more than it needs you to work at that job. If we can inspire some kid from Fayetteville to go out and do their thing, that’s a pretty solid legacy. Nothing’s impossible if you want to go for it; it’s as simple as that,” said Howell.
Despite moments when they couldn’t sense progress, hindsight offers a clearer view.
Things that seemed big at one time are now seen as the smaller steps that have propelled them further along the road.
Howell recalled, “Our first out-of-town gig in Birmingham, I thought we’d made it. It was the first time we had to get a hotel room for the show. That was a milestone. Now it’s nothing for us to drive 8 to 10 hours away for a gig, but that was a big deal at the time. The first time you get in the studio is a big deal. The first time you see your name on the marquee or a flyer is a big deal. Then you turn around, and what you thought might be the biggest thing is now so far in the past. Now you have goals that get bigger and bigger. You always have that big goal, but there are goals in between that just keep getting bigger.”
Meeting those goals was possible thanks to the support of family, friends, and people they’ve come in contact with along the way.
“They gave us an edge and a sense of survival to help us make it in an environment like this,” said Whorley.
“It’s what got us here,” Howell agreed.
Yeah. Small-town dreams really do come true. GN